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Using Data Instead of Appearances

Bike lanes: a case study in the difference between appearance and reality

Bike lanes are built at a significant cost to taxpayers, and when they appear to be underutilized, municipal governments can be pressured to abandon projects that would otherwise have resulted in massive city-wide improvements in cycling infrastructure. However, there’s a school of thought that suggests the apparent usage and effectiveness of bike lanes is easily misinterpreted. To the casual observer, bike lanes often appear to be underused when, in fact, they may not be.

Density is one of the key metrics that tracks bike lane usage patterns, and it’s a tricky one because appearances can be very deceiving. Consider, for example, a road with a traffic lane and a parallel lane dedicated for use by cyclists.

The traffic lane, due to traffic signals and the high volume of cars on the road, is moving at an average speed of 5 mph during rush hour. With a flow of 500 vehicles per hour, traffic would be approaching the density of a traffic jam — making it appear as though the road was in very high demand for use by vehicles.

Next, assume an identical flow of 500 vehicles per hour in the adjoining bike lane. Because these bikes are traveling at higher speeds than the cars on the road next to them, bicycle traffic is circulating at a much more fluid rate. Bikes are smaller, with more space between them, which exaggerates the impression that the traffic load is imbalanced.

To the driver stuck in gridlock, it appears as though the bike lane isn’t experiencing nearly as much demand because their lane is full and the bike lane has much more open space. The driver then promptly calls his or her city councilor to complain about the wasted road space upon returning home.

Real data generates more reliable insights than anecdotal observations

While the aforementioned scenario may seem oversimplified, the reality is that municipal governments use this kind of anecdotal evidence to inform their policy decisions all the time. Their thinking is that if enough people are complaining about a problem — in this case, that bike lanes are underused — there must be some truth to the issue.

This is a perfect example of how tools like the RideAmigos software platform can help municipalities make more effective infrastructure decisions. As riders log their bicycle trips they provide system administrators comprehensive collections of hard data, which can be analyzed and sorted into customizable reports that deliver reliable, fact-based insights into actual traffic and commuting patterns. This, in turn, informs better and more equitable policy decisions that benefit the entire community. Sign up now to view a comprehensive demonstration of our platform’s transformative power.

Check out this source for a more in-depth mathematical analysis of this effect:
On Why Bike Lanes Might Appear Underutilized | Transportationist

Overcoming Congestion By Empowering Commuters

All too often, conventional approaches to fighting traffic congestion amount to little more than wasted taxpayer money.

To the growing frustration of many taxpayers, municipalities and government agencies around the country are throwing money at inefficient ways to relieve the ever-present problem of traffic congestion. Consider the following examples:

  • Colorado’s state government recently proposed a $1.2 billion plan to widen the I-70 freeway in Denver
  • The city of Louisville, Kentucky is bankrolling the expansion of the I-71 freeway from four lanes to six
  • The state of Iowa wants to broaden U.S. Highway 20 up to four lanes to accommodate the growing demands of car-based travel
  • Alabama’s state government supports to widen the I-20/59 freeway — a highway that runs right through Birmingham’s city center

While they may provide the illusion of relief over the short term, these approaches amount to more pollution, more concrete, more construction and more problems in the future. They aren’t effectively addressing the root causes of gridlock and traffic-generated pollution; they’re simply masking the issue. We need commuters to think differently about their transportation options.

Planning for a better future can’t be done by catering to the needs of single-occupancy vehicles. Rather, governments must find ways to inspire commuters and travelers to make better use of alternatives like biking, walking, ridesharing, carpooling, vanpooling and public transit. How? By putting a new generation of powerful transportation planning tools into the hands of an increasingly larger base of users.

At RideAmigos, we’ve created a smarter way forward in the form of our critically-acclaimed transportation demand management software platform. It enables municipalities and governments to strategize and promote alternatives that generate meaningful results by transforming the ways people think about getting from point A to B.

Empowering commuters to make fully-informed transportation decisions is our specialty at RideAmigos. We provide end users with innovative and easy-to-use tools like an interactive commuter dashboard and multimodal trip planner to consider the wide array of options beyond single-occupancy vehicles.

A small investment in technology can pay big dividends and facilitate more effective allocation of limited resources.

Our user-focused software has been proven time and time again to reduce reliance on single-occupancy vehicles and make alternative options more accessible and more convenient than ever before. Effective solutions to traffic congestion happen when municipalities and governments take decisive steps to make it easier for people to leave their cars at home, and that’s the power of the RideAmigos platform.

Make better use of taxpayer dollars and be part of the solution rather than just sweeping the problem under the rug of a widened freeway. Contact RideAmigos today for an informative, eye-opening demonstration of the incredible power of our unique technology.

30 Days of Biking with RideAmigos

The 30 Days of Biking challenge kicks off soon. Are you in?

30 Days of BikingOn April 1st the annual 30 Days of Biking challenge kicks off its latest session. The premise is simple: participants pledge to ride a bike every day during the month of April. It doesn’t matter how long or how far. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like. Just ride a bike every day from April 1 to April 30 and you’ve done it. Those taking part are encouraged to share their journeys on social media using the hashtag #30daysofbiking.

The 30 Days of Biking movement began off seven years ago in Minneapolis and has since spread to include many different city chapters across the United States. Beyond raising awareness for the benefits of cycling and promoting it as an alternative to driving, the project collects proceeds from sponsorships and merchandise sales, which are used to purchase bicycles for disadvantaged children.

Enjoy the benefits and incentives of participation.

Anyone can sign up for the 30 Days of Biking challenge, and the benefits make the commitment wholly worthwhile. First, biking every day for one month straight will help improve your health. Coupled with a sensible diet, cycling is one of the best ways to lose weight; it’s a low-impact exercise that doesn’t put much strain on your body, but still gives you a powerful workout.

Research has also shown that regular exercise improves your mood and helps you get deeper, more restful sleep at night. Chances are good you’ll notice that you’re more energetic, more creative and better able to perform in all aspects of your life.

You’ll also be helping more than one important cause; bike to work and you’ll be doing your part to reduce traffic congestion. Generate pledges or purchase official merchandise and you’ll be spreading the word about the event while helping supply bikes to kids in need. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by signing up. Are you in?

RideAmigos + 30 Days of Biking

The RideAmigos platform is the ideal tool for promoting challenges like 30 Days of Biking within your organization, as well as creating other custom challenges for users in your network. Create and manage your own 30 Days of Biking challenge and help users plan their cycling routes in all April long. Challenges like 30 Days of Biking are a proven way to help people think differently about their transportation options and are an integrated part of our transportation management platform. In addition to challenges and incentives, our groundbreaking platform puts a wealth of local and regional transit information at users’ fingertips, allowing them to pre-plan journeys, view transit information and, for businesses and organizations, generate insights into the ways people get around your area.

Our platform is specifically developed to make use of challenges and incentives to encourage people explore the many transit alternatives available to them, from cycling and walking to rideshares, schoolpools and more.

Learn how to set up and run a 30 Days of Biking challenge at the RideAmigos Academy, your source for all the latest tips and tricks for making the most of our software.